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Building Capacities of Rural Communities through People's Institutions

Dr. R. Indira (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Kassam (co-Principal Investigator) are examined the role of self-help groups (SHG) as not only a strong counter force against exploitative credit delivery systems but also as an institutional avenue for rural women to mobilize themselves in order to seek better life chances. SHGs in rural India have helped women create and manage powerful civil society institutions which make a significant difference to their lives.

Initially, SHGs started to function primarily as “savings groups” but over a period of time these groups have demonstrated their abilities for community capacity building. The overall aim of this applied research project, which was carried out in the forest communities of the Western Ghats of Karnataka, India, is identification and strengthening of community-based people's institutions to affect socio-economic policies and practices. It is in this context that SHGs develop significance as powerful people's institutions.

Dr. Kassam’s role was to help develop illustrative examples of Canadian case studies that demonstrate best practices for community institutions as well as research and document the human ecological relations in selected forest communities with a view to show the linkages between culture and biological diversity. The project was funded by the Shastri-Indo Canadian Institute and the Canadian International Development Agency.


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